Genuine Leadership #2: Prune the Unnecessary
How are you pruning the unnecessary goals, strategies and objectives to keep your organization light and nimble?
In words that resonate with most educators, Peter Drucker (1992) writes that "the largest and easiest gains in knowledge work come from redefining the task and eliminating what need not be done."
Collins writes that we must all make a "stop doing list." We must "stop doing anything and everything" that doesn't get us the results we want (Collins, 2001).
Results will require tough but intelligent decisions from us. To gain the results we want will require that we systematically review and eliminate unnecessary, ill-wrought goals and committee work, that we abandon ineffective but so-called "research-based" programs and strategies.
Source: Schmoker, Up and Away
Wow, that's pretty tough. Consider what Mike Schmoker writes here in Winter, 2000:
Because all school districts have limited staff development resources, they should put the lion’s share of those funds into staff development that is aimed as directly as possible at the schools’ or teams’ measurable student achievement goals. Initiatives should be very carefully selected to have the most powerful impact in the classroom. Those areas then become the core of the conversation about improvement efforts for the school.
Alignment, then, means more than just making certain that you teach what you assess. It should also include providing staff development that’s geared to what students are learning and what you are assessing.
I’ve seen schools with large numbers of low-achieving students devoting the majority of their staff development resources to new, unproven teacher evaluation schemes, grand, comprehensive school improvement designs, or methods like Multiple Intelligences, brainbased learning theory, or technology training – presumably to raise achievement in reading or writing or math.
Is this interesting stuff? You bet. And the theory that informs these approaches may have powerful implications for the future.
But let’s be honest. Right now, these are not world-class ways to promote literacy and numeracy. All these programs refer to research – but that is a very different thing than having a proven, reliable method with a record for getting both short- and long-term results.
Larry Cuban and others have written trenchantly about the disappointing results of technology training. And John Bruer’s recent book and cover article in the May 1999 issue of Phi Delta Kappan add to the evidence that brain-based education is still in the development stage.
Neither it nor Multiple Intelligences has yet to demonstrate its effectiveness in the classroom. When or if that ever happens, we can then devote more resources to them.
But, in many cases, we are denying teachers and students the benefits of methods that ensure that even the most disadvantaged students can achieve at levels we once only dreamed of.
Prune the unnecessary. Of course, how do you decide what to prune? What ineffective instructional strategies would be on your list?
Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure